Chris Hayes opened up his show this Saturday with his "Story of the Week" on Rep. Paul Ryan and the difference between his belief system and worship of Ayn Rand his biography. As Hayes rightfully noted, sadly, this blatant hypocrisy from those who have benefited from our society while telling others to "sink or swim on their own" is a problem much bigger than just Paul Ryan.
Since Paul Ryan was announced as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, many progressives and even mainstream media outlets have noted that there's a fundamental tension between Ryan's belief system and his biography. Ryan is beloved by the conservative base because he is, by all accounts, a true believer, deeply influenced by the hyper-individualistic philosophy of romance novelist Ayn Rand. His speeches and talking points and the lengthy preamble to one of his first big budget documents paint a picture of a world divided into makers and takers, those who produce and those who mooch. To Rand, the ultimate good is freedom and all attempts to weave together a social safety net, to alleviate misery caused by misfortune are incursions on that freedom and thus suspect, even contemptible.
And for Ryan, there's a biographical dimension to this philosophy. Ryan suffered through a horrible tragedy in his teenage years when he discovered his father dead of a heart attack in his house. The death shook Ryan and he, says, changed his outlook. It changed the finances of the household: his mother went back to school and they took in his grandmother. Ryan says he concluded that "I've got to either sink or swim in life."